Nine steps to success

Convincing patients to sign up to your dental plan needn’t be a headache, says Gary Nelson

The starting point is to believe as a team that you are offering a great dental plan that in every day comparisons is superb value for money.

What other Direct Debits do your patients have every month? Sky television, the gym, mobile phone, golf club… the list goes on.

With this in mind, is your practice membership plan excellent value for money? Once you have agreed you all believe it is great value then you can start with what I believe are the nine steps to success.

Step one
Ensure the reception team are giving all patients not currently on your dental plan one of your branded brochures about the plan on arrival, explaining that their dentist will have a chat about becoming a member of the practice plan at today’s appointment.

Step two
When the patient arrives in the dental room the dentist or hygienist will have a ready made opportunity to open the conversation about your membership plan: “I see the girls have given you a brochure on our membership plan…”

Step three
Invite your patient to become a member of the practice, communicating the benefits not the features, such as lower prices for treatment – both routine and cosmetic.

Step four
Ask open questions, not closed. Examples of closed questions include “Would you like to join up to the plan?” or “Would you like me to explain our plan to you?” These questions will only receive a yes or no answer. Most often an instinctive no.

Open questions will get open answers. Try asking: “How do you feel about our plan?” or “Tell me, is that something that sounds good to you?”

Step five
Remember body language and the tone of your voice. More than 70 per cent of any communication is the tone of your voice and the use of positive body language. Remember to nod and acknowledge, it reinforces your communication.

I cannot begin to explain the importance of this step. If you are passionate about the patient becoming a member, they will be able to tell through tone and body language and are much more likely to join today.

Step six
Consider giving them a reason to join there and then. Reasons to join today can be things like:

  • Your hygienist appointment next week would be included
  • Your examination today would be included.

Step seven
If your patient has expressed an interest in joining, complete the process by walking with them to reception and ensure a successful conclusion. Professional patient handovers are vital.

Step eight
Thank your patient and inform them that you will see them next time as a member of the practice.

Step nine
Set daily goals and targets. Highlight on your day sheet the patients that are not currently members, so that everyone knows which patients to approach.

Gary Nelson is the founder and owner of Quality Plan NI. For more information, visit

Published: 8 August, 2011 at 16:30
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